Sat, Jan 19, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Google withdraws ‘Make Me Asian’ app after protests

AFP, Washington

Google has removed a “Make Me Asian” app — that let players change their appearance — following an uproar by Asian American activists who said the game promoted derogatory stereotypes.

As of Thursday, “Make Me Asian” and similar apps such as “Make Me Fat” and “Make Me [American] Indian” were no longer available on the search engine giant’s online store Google Play.

“Make Me Asian” had billed itself as allowing a person to “make himself a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asian.” The user was able to add features to a person’s picture, such as a conical hat or a Fu Manchu mustache.

Nearly 8,500 people signed a petition on the social action site change.org urging Google to remove the app after the blog Angry Asian Man drew attention to it in November last year, calling it “ridiculously racist.”

Peter Chin, the Washington pastor who launched the petition, said he was concerned that stereotypes offensive to Asian Americans would become more mainstream if distributed through Google Play.

“I understand if people still use those characterizations, but I don’t feel comfortable with them becoming commonplace. That would really, I think, be going backwards for the Asian American community,” he said. “If this were several generations down the line and these kinds of stereotypes were so old and played out that no one even cared, then I could understand. But I don’t think we’re quite there yet. They are still fairly offensive and used very often.”

Google did not immediately return a request for comment. Chin said that Google only offered formulaic responses over the concerns.

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